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Belle De Jour (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Catherine Deneuve
  • Directors: Luis Buñuel
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Jan. 17 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005VU9LI6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,281 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

The porcelain perfection of Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion) hides a cracked interior in the actress’s most iconic role: Séverine, a chilly Paris housewife by night, a bordello prostitute by day. This surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream from provocateur for the ages Luis Buñuel (Viridiana) is an examination of desire and fetishistic pleasure (its characters’ and its viewers’), as well as a gently absurdist take on contemporary social mores and class divisions. Fantasy and reality commingle in this burst of cinematic transgression, which was one of Buñuel’s biggest hits.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration • Audio commentary featuring Michael Wood, author of the BFI Film Classics book Belle de jour • New video piece featuring writer and sexual-politics activist Susie Bright and film scholar Linda Williams • New interview with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière • Excerpt from the French television program Cinéma, featuring interviews with Carrière and actress Catherine Deneuve • Original and American release trailers • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Melissa Anderson and a 1970s interview with director Luis Buñuel

A young Paris housewife, Séverine, grows bored with her stable husband. When she learns of the presence of a high-class brothel in her neighborhood, she quietly goes to work there--but only during the day, until five o'clock in the afternoon. This sublime 1967 film is one of the latter-day masterpieces of the Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel, whose career forms one of the greatest and boldest arcs in cinema. By the time of Belle de Jour, Buñuel had become almost completely deadpan in his style, which not only leaves the motivation of Séverine a mystery (despite a few flashbacks to degradations of her youth), but also casts the entire plot in doubt. An old surrealist from the 1920s (when his first classic, Un Chien Andalou, was made in collaboration with Salvador Dali), Buñuel suggests that what we see may be real, or simply Séverine's imagination. Because he was the least pretentious of directors, Buñuel keeps his material playful, wicked, yet cutting. As Séverine, the impossibly lovely Catherine Deneuve uses her cool demeanor to great effect--she never breaks her deadpan, either. In 1995, after having been out of official circulation for years, Belle de Jour was re-released in America and became an unexpected art-house hit. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Tonks on March 12 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Description of product on Amazon is in english but product contains no english subtitles. Even the cd has english warnings about copyrighting etc. A blu-ray / dvd which you would expect hope to go the little extra of english subtitles. Stupid to market this product in north american market - even netflix isn't this stupid! Beware of the lack of effort of this product even though there is the fine print of french language!
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Format: DVD
Belle de Jour most definitely belongs to the realm of cinematic classics. It is arguably the most accessible of Bunuel's films and probably the best introduction to his work because it did for me.

Séverine (Deneuve) has everything a young middle class woman is supposed to want. She has a handsome, caring doctor for a husband named Pierre (Sorel), a beautiful home, and plenty of fashionable clothing. But she is not happy. Her bland spouse treats her like a child, so she indulges in dark brutal fantasies filled with guilt, passion, and pain. Already inclined to sadomasochistic fantasies due to some unknown trauma in her past, Severine is increasingly drawn to acting upon her need for degradation. Bored with her life, she works during the afternoons at a brothel which caters to this proclivity, yet she is still the good bourgeois wife who informs her madam that she has to be home by five p.m. (her alias at the brothel is Belle de Jour, a pun on the French euphemism for prostitute, "belle de nuit"). She enjoys this double life until one of her customers, a gangster, becomes so obsessed with her to the point that he is determined to kill her husband. What follows next is a meditation on ambiguity on all levels. Severine is morally torn between living as an upper-class ice maiden and an abandoned fantasy woman. Although Severine is trying to stop her husband's murder, her efforts seem to be somewhat half-hearted, almost as if she is willing to tempt fate.

Thanks to Sacha Vierny's stunning color cinematography, Yves Saint Laurent's couture and her own genes, Deneuve herself looks beautiful that even she seems unreal an indication of how beautiful Deneuve is in this film can be found by recalling Grace Kelly in her Hitchcock period.
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By A Customer on July 31 2002
Format: DVD
The best film Martin Scorcese has been involved with since *The Last Temptation of Christ* is one he didn't direct: 1967's *Belle de Jour*, by master-director Luis Bunuel. The fact that this movie's re-release, overseen by Scorcese in 1995, created a sensation in art-houses only illustrates what a graveyard European cinema is today by comparison. At any rate . . . *Belle de Jour* is about a repressed, wealthy young housewife who finds herself irresistably drawn to a high-class Parisian whorehouse. She becomes a part-time employee, working the day-shift from 2 to 5, before beating it back home before clueless hubby returns from work. Because this is Bunuel, you may find yourself wondering what's really happening to Catherine Deneuve and what she's simply fantasizing. Don't worry about it. Remember that for Bunuel, the interior and exterior life had the same level of importance; it was all life to him, and therefore real. Applying a magnifying glass to your TV screen in order to look for "clues" that demonstrate either reality or fantasy would be missing the point. I suppose that in the final analysis, *Belle de Jour* will aggravate meat-and-potatoes movie-watchers craving linear narrative. (You know who you are, and you've been warned.) The rest will rightly not give a hoot about "reality", and will enjoy the comical details in this study of sexual fantasies and obsession. The autumnal photography by cinematography legend Sacha Vierny, as well as the magisterial direction itself -- as unobtrusive as it is stylish, an effect earned by Bunuel's 40 years of hard work --, should win over those sitting on the fence.Read more ›
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The premise of BELLE DU JOUR is well known. A young, beautiful, and slightly frigid doctor's wife (Catherine Deneuve) secretly harbors fantasies of being dominated, humiliated, and abused by her husband (Jean Sorel.) When these fantasies can no longer be denied, she becomes a prostitute under the sponsorship of a possibly lesbian madam (Geneviève Page), working during the afternoons while her husband is at his own work. Her sexuality is awakened by the sometimes brutish clients, who soon discover that "she likes it rough," and she is ultimately caught up a relationship with a truly dangerous client (Pierre Clémenti) whose possessiveness threatens to destroy both her and her husband.
Throughout the film Deneuve slips in and out of memory and fantasy, sometimes recalling herself as a possibly molested child, sometimes imagining herself as the victim in a series of sexual assault fantasies. Director Bunuel, whose masterpiece this is, so blurs the line between memory, reality, and fantasy that by the film's conclusion one cannot be sure if some, most, or everything about the film has been Deneuve's fantasy. Although it includes a number of impressive performances (particularly by Geneviève Page, her girls, and their clients), BELLE is essentially Deneuve's film from start to finish, and she gives an astonishing performance that cannot be easily described. Like the film itself, it is a balancing act between fantasy and a plausible reality that may actually be nothing of the kind. Bunuel presents both her and the film as a whole in an almost clinical manner, and is less interested in gaining our sympathy for the character than in presenting her as an object for intellectual observation.
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